La June Paw's Story

Watch the video
Local boy rides bicycle on the main road of the village of Noh Bo, Thailand.

La June Paw

The decades of conflict in Burma have caused a significant amount of displacement for the diverse Karen ethnic group and many other ethnic minorities. La June Paw is a child of this displacement. She lives at Blessed Homes in the beautiful village of Noh bo which sits right on the border of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar).

Singer songwriter La June Paw performs a self-written song on the steps of her room at Blessed Homes Noh Bo.

Both of June’s parents are still alive but the choice to live with them is not an option.

Children at Blessed Homes Noh Bo gather to eat their second meal of the day.

June's Family

Both of June’s parents are still alive but the choice to live with them is not an option. Her mother’s changeable attitude of having June as a daughter has been very painful for June and her father’s addiction to alcohol, apathy for his parental responsibilities, and involvement in one of the local armies precludes him from parental care. She was passed around through various family members in and outside of Mae La Camp for several years and eventually found familiar stability in Noh bo. This has been her residence for the past 11 years. Her grandmother resides in Noh bo as well and is a part of her life.

La June Paw poses for a portrait at Blessed Homes Noh Bo.

Her life at the home would seem to some to be living in a jungle paradise.

Paw Wa Jaw, resident of Blessed Homes, eats a mango picked from a local orchard.

June's Home

Her life at the home would seem to some to be living in a jungle paradise. Surrounded by banana trees and bamboo the chickens and dogs run freely. The home is along side a mango orchard and the Maoi River where the children swim almost daily. As one of the eldest in the home June helps to take care of the younger kids. Her life in the home gives her access to visitors from various countries and her life circumstances along with her education have allowed her to learn several languages including English, Thai, Sgaw Karen, and Burmese. She attends the Karen School in the village which has a rigorous curriculum. Her father is Sgaw Karen and her mother is Pwo Karen. However, because she is separated from her mother she did not learn to speak Pwo Karen.

Rainy season at Blessed Homes Noh Bo.

Like many of the Karen youths, June writes songs to cope with the pain and emotional burdens caused by displacement.

Two girls living at Blessed Homes Mae Oo Hoo watch a drone in the sky.

June's Music

June participates regular in traditional celebrations of the Karen that include dancing and music. Like many of the Karen youths, June writes songs to cope with the pain and emotional burdens caused by displacement. Her friends enjoy her musical abilities and and often seek her to sing and play guitar for them. When she write songs she writes them in Sgaw Karen. Her ear for music is quite sharp, she likes to sing harmony when she participates in the local choir. She sings at church regularly and her strong personality and keen perceptibly have made her a leader among her peers.

La June Paw sings a religious Karen song with her choir from a local church.

When I just have a free feeling...I write it. If I don’t have, I don’t write.

La June Paw

Rice fields and mountains surrounding Noh Bo, Thailand.

Watch the next story or share this story with your friends.

scroll to navigate View the Story